Paradigm Shift

one way

Kyle is really into science.  He loves to watch the Weather Channel and to look up facts on the internet.  This morning he drew a cross-section of a tornado, then made a spinning tornado/ball device with a paper plate and a bouncy ball.  “This is what a tornado looks like” he said, holding up the piece of paper, “and this is what it looks like when it’s spinning.”  Then he titled the plate so the ball would spin around.

There’s a little tornado inside me, too.

For the past few months I have been running through our life nonstop.  It’s been wonderful – lots of family time, moving to this new neighborhood and discovering things together, traveling together, etc.  It doesn’t ever stop:  this weekend we’ll go camping in Ventura, then Labor Day weekend we’ll go Camping With the Lesbians again (hooray!).  All of this activity, though, doesn’t allow me much time to contemplate the nagging worries that pop up in my brain when I’m driving alone, or right before I fall asleep at night.

One of my girlfriends confessed that she sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night and worries about the Big Things. She can’t go back to sleep.  It’s as if the middle of the night is the only time free for such preoccupation.  Certainly a busy mother of two does not have the opportunity to dwell on the unknowns of the near future during the hustle and bustle of a regular day.  What would that even look like?  I picture myself sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in my hands, staring off into space, a pinched “V” between my brows.  The lonely act of worrying.

In fact, I sat down here at my desk just now to Get My Shit Together.  My plan was to Organize, List, and Come Up With a Strategy.  But guess what?  I can’t do that without typing, and so I remembered this blog and how wonderful it always feels to work my shit out right here.

I’ve taken a long time to get to the point, I know.  Perhaps I’ll go back and edit this post to give you the goods quicker.  For now I’ll just bold it:

I’m considering becoming a Stay At Home Mom.

Now those of you who just come here because you’re intrigued by the title, or to look at the pictures, have scrolled down and blessedly missed all of the blah-blah above.  The point is, my kids are going to school.  Not someday, as I had always feared, but next month.  In TWO WEEKS, to be exact.  Kyle starts Kindergarten, and I am terrified.

What if he gets put in the early bird class?

What if kids pick on him?

What if he picks on other kids?

What if he gets sick?

How will he get to catechism?

How will he ever get to play extra curricular sports?

Who will do his homework with him?

Where will he go on days off and the new ridiculous week-long Thanksgiving holiday?

How will I pay for full-time aftercare?

What about when BOTH kids are in school?

My day job is not paying me enough to justify all that day care for both kids.  I have arranged to work part time to pick up Kyle.  But then there’s all these short days and local holidays, etc.  There’s events and shows and fundraisers.  I never, ever, EVER thought I’d say this, but I want to be involved.  I want to be there for him.  I want to be an active parent, at home with my kids.

There.  I said it.  I breathe a huge sigh of relief as I put that out into the universe.  Now begins the arduous, scary, thrilling task of making this change possible.  We can’t support our lifestyle without my income, you see, so either the lifestyle goes, or I keep up the income on a schedule that allows me to be here for my children when they are not in school.

My life has always been one way.  Now it needs to be the other way.  Unfortunately, I can’t just flip a switch and make it happen.  I have to work at it.  Not only do I have to pinch pennies and/or hustle up the part-time work or the clients for my freelance writing career (hello possible clients, you may contact me via the email in the upper right corner), but I also have to shift my mentality.  All those hours of being with my children after working full time for so long – that will be an adjustment.  How easy or hard it will be I cannot tell.  I pray for easy!

I was afraid to tell Stewart about this desire of mine to stop working out of the home and stay here with the kids.  I thought he would laugh at me and say “You don’t really want to stay home with them!”  After all, I love my career.  I get impatient with the children.  I shoo them out of the house in the morning, impatient for Stewart to take them off to day care so I can fit in social media and blogging time before I go to work.  But as I carefully pointed out to him several times over the last few months while this idea was brewing in my head, I have been so much better with the kids, and they’ve been better with me.  We’ve come a long way.

As I mentioned, we do depend on my salary, the loss of which I know concerns him.  But as my salary has suffered from the economic downturn, it makes less and less sense to bank on that job.  I have done what I can to drum up clients for that company, but either nobody’s buying or I’m going about it the wrong way, because I haven’t been successful at the sales effort.

I thought I’d have to “run the numbers” and do a presentation complete with a Power Point slide show to convince Stewart of my seriousness.  Since I don’t have time for that, I brought it up last night, and all I had to do was weep a tiny little bit as I talked about my idea, and his face softened and he said “Of course I wouldn’t laugh at you, honey.”  He thinks it’s a good idea, and that it would be good for our family.

And then he asked me to run the numbers.

I’ll do that.  I’m sure I’ll come up short in the income category.  But I’m putting my faith in the universe, and in myself, that I can fix that part.  Maybe something amazing will happen.  At the very least, my kids will be happy.


  1. says

    “We can’t support our lifestyle without my income, you see, so either the lifestyle goes, or I keep up the income on a schedule that allows me to be here for my children when they are not in school.”

    **Loved** this post, and that quote above is at the heart of this problem for many of us. The classic conundrum. I am so excited to see what happens next for you! You always know how to make good things happen. Run the numbers, girl, and let’s see what happens.

  2. says

    This is a hard call. It’s good that you’re running the numbers. I’d also give things a month or two to settle in with Kyle in school and your new part time schedule. Right now you’re looking at making decisions based on what you think life will be like. I’d suggest that you hang on and wait. You may decide to tough it out and work towards a plan to go SAHM when your second hits school.

    In the end, make the decision that’s best for you and your entire family and move forward with commitment and confidence. You’ll be great no matter which way you choose.


  3. says

    Good job, Kim. Your kids will love you for it. I appreciate my mom so much for making that choice and being home for us 4 kids. You’ll find a way to make it work – it’s just choices about priorities. Sometimes when I hear people make the excuse that they HAVE to work, I feel like maybe they just don’t want it bad enough to make it work out. Sell the boat, cut the cable, shop at Goodwill, whatever – your kids won’t die from wearing hand me downs. Anyway, good choice. I look forward to seeing how you do it.

  4. says

    Congrats Kim on making the decision to explore this option. You already have Suze Orman by your side :) Remember, you can also test drive it for 6 months.

  5. says

    Oh, Kimmy.

    I shared similar thougths this morning as I was literally putting football games on the calendar while taking a dump and my hair drying, hollaring at Jackson to get his clothes on and get his bag ready for the day.

    I also realized that I have a client board meeting, we have 3 football games, and the school auction, all on one Saturday. The first game over laps my board meeting, and the last football game overlaps the auction. All of the football games are out of town.

    I thought that work used to define who I was to me. Now it is my family. All 5 of us. And. It. Never. Stops. I don’t even get to poop in piece without multi-tasking.

    The school secretary position became open and I was thinking about how much I would love that. Organizing, being in Jackson’s school. Off when he is. NOT having to teach. But is pays somewhere less than 1/3 of my salary. Amazingly it has come open twice when I have been facing a career mental crisis. I am praying that at job pending for Chris actually opens up. Maybe then we can shift salaries and I can at least be a SAH mom when school is not in session.

    Okay. Maybe I will finally make this a post on my own blog!!

    Good luck. Love you. Suz

  6. says

    Once you accept it as possible, you can work to make it happen.

    Which is not to say that it IS possible in all situations. (Mine, for one. Only income. Only source of health insurance. Child with special needs. Staying where I am, no matter how much I’d like to “be there” at home. They have their dad there, though. That helps.)

    But, in the past, it HAS been possible for me. And, at first, I’d assumed it wasn’t, and been miserable. Then I was made to look more closely, and realized I had options. Having options makes it all possible. Even if, sometimes, it turns into deciding to use the option of continuing to have that office-job safety net–or if it turns into trying to make a go without it, and then realizing that it’s not what works for your family, and reversing course again.

  7. t.a. barnhart says

    i was either stay-at-home or primary parent for most of the time we were married with kids. i had jobs & went to grad school, but i spent far more time at home with the boys than most fathers, or even a lot of moms, get to do. it made up, a bit, for the years that followed, when my ex & her husband moved the boys to where i was not able to see them more than “my” weekends.

    i vote for as much time as you can manage with them. some cliches are painfully true: the time goes by so fast. somehow my kids are in their 20s & i’m a grandfather. i miss my little boys so much. some of my best memories are just thinking about standing & waiting for the bus, or going shopping, or going out in the morning for a bagel. little things. playing legos while watching Thomas the Tank Engine & Mister Rogers.

    in 10 years, they’ll both be spending more & more time away from you & home. that’s really what you’re looking at; a 10-yr window to spend time with your sons as little boys. your career will wait (and you’ll find ways to write, etc, at home). find a way to spend all the time you want with your boys. you don’t get a second chance at this. you won’t regret walking away from a job, not for this.

  8. Noelle says

    Somehow, some way, it will work out for you, Kim! You’ve put it out there in the universe and so it goes. This is the ultimate modern mom’s dilemma and you’ve articulated it perfectly. I can’t ever imagine regretting a decision to spend more time with your kids. Sounds cliche, but you’ll get a job again someday. You’ll just never get Kyle the kindergartener again. If you ever need to talk through the adjustment, I’m here for you. Have spent time doing it both ways and for me, being there for my kid trumps going to the office and I’d gladly trade some ‘stuff’ to go back to that some day! Congrats for speaking it aloud. Now just believe walk into your new chapter with faith and confidence!

  9. JnG says

    Wow! Dr. Laura’s words may be getting inside you. Bravo. Bravo. You WON’T regret having more time with your kids. Enjoy them while you can. Best of luck!! And we sure support you.

  10. says

    Wow, you’re right, this is the perfect partner to my post. In reverse. I’m home questioning how little I do for our family’s income or myself. You’re working questioning how little you do for your children and yourself. My BFF has a fabulous part time thing going with family helping with childcare. She loves it. But her situation is clearly a rare rare thing. Because job sharing, fabulous benefits for mothers and options like in work daycare just doesn’t really happen. I don’t get it. Women have been having children for, like, EVER. Why the hell is this whole thing such a balance and a struggle still? Why are we questioning ourselves so much, as if we’re the ones effing everything up? Just trying to raise our kids and a pay a couple bills here. Nothing too out of the ordinary folks. Great post, my friend.

  11. says

    BTW, we did this for about eight years or so. While there were some rough spots, it made life much easier in a number of areas. If possible I would have been the one to stay home- but social workers and teachers don’t make dick so….

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